UnLOCKEing the John Locke Foundation, Part 6 – Using a Lot of Words to Say Not a Lot

The latest op-ed by Dr. Terry Stoops on EdNC.org entitled “Enrollment changes have consequences” is another successful endeavor in glossing over the real issues that face public education in North Carolina.
You may read it here – https://www.ednc.org/2016/08/22/enrollment-changes-consequences/.
And after you read it, ask yourself, “What was that about?” I have yet to see the real point of his argument, much less why it was written.
I am not kidding you. I have no idea what the article is trying to achieve. It simply says that there are fluctuations in student enrollment and that overall the state has gained students. Some districts have experienced a drop in student numbers, but to what end does this information serve. Over half of the article is full of numbers that could have just as easily been linked to.
When the table of data is scrolled through, Dr. Stoops delivers a rather stunning conclusion: “These enrollment numbers are critical.”
I can only say sarcastically that Dr. Stoops has really nailed it there. Yes, they are critical. Yet, he offers no analysis that furthers the conversation.
As the Director of Research and Education Studies for the John Locke Foundation, Dr. Stoops has the responsibility to promote the ideology of the very people he works for, mostly Art Pope, a staunch conservative libertarian who was the budget director for Gov. McCrory’s first year. Mr. Pope was a critical cog in the move to alter funds to public education (resources, teacher salaries, etc.) over three years ago.
Since then, NC has experienced a growing population, and Dr. Stoops shows that clearly in his large data table.
And then with the last three paragraphs, Dr. Stoops rides a fence of his own construction showing that those counties who experienced loss in students will have to make adjustments and counties that are gaining students will have to make – yep, you guessed it – adjustments.
He simply identifies a problem that has been exacerbated by his boss’s economic policies – the funding of public schools.
Yet there is no mention of the effects of charter schools, Opportunity Grants, teacher salary “readjustments”, or any of the other actions that have affected public schools.
In fact, what is not said by the Director of Research and Educational Studies for the John Locke Foundation speaks more loudly than what was said.
No substance. No solutions.

How John Oliver’s Segment On Charter Schools Speaks to North Carolina

If you have any interest in why the charter school industry has been under the spotlight in this election year in North Carolina, you might want to check out a segment from the August 22, 2016 episode of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. If you have HBO GO then you can watch all the episodes of a great show, but if you are a hard-line Trump supporter, you will not agree with a lot of things that Oliver says. Well, not anything he says.

But I do agree with what Oliver says about charter schools. Actually, I agree with a lot of what he says.

He devoted over 18 minutes to the charter school industry in this episode and you can tell that there was so much more to talk about. And yes, it is HBO, so there is a lot of vulgarity, but it’s not gratuitous to me and if your ears are too sensitive to listen to any “f-bomb” being dropped, then don’t view it.

In fact, if Oliver’s language is offending to you, don’t walk down the hall of a large public school. I’ve walked down the halls of small, private Christian schools and heard language that would put hair on your chest. Teenagers cuss. And some do it well. As an educator who teaches rhetoric and argumentation, I have heard some beautifully phrased lude comments come from our nation’s youth. Would I want my daughter saying that? No.

But man, there was no further explanation needed.

I will write about the use of vulgarity later.

But back to Oliver. Here’s the segment. And watch the whole thing –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_htSPGAY7I .


Interestingly, the segment begins with a lot of presidential hopefuls (mostly GOP) praising charter schools. Obama sings their praises. Even Trump is quoted as saying, “Charter schools work and they work very well.”

In 42 states as well as the District of Columbia over 6700 charter schools are educating over 3 million students. They get to use taxpayer money, but can operate under less transparency like a private school.

And I liked that Oliver did not argue whether the concept of charter schools is bad or not. He agreed that they are good in principle. There are fantastic charter schools here in North Carolina. Many times I have referred to the Arts Based Schools here in Winston-Salem as an example. But they do something that public schools do not. That is using innovative practices to educate students. Their students typically go into traditional public schools for high school.

What Oliver was exploring was the way that many charter schools operate and handle money. And in eighteen minutes he could not begin to dissect all states. He focused mostly on Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

Does that lessen what has happened in charter schools here in North Carolina? No. In fact, it really highlights what is happening here in the Old North State.

Remember the DPI report that Lt. Dan Forest wanted redone to shed a more positive light on charter schools here in North Carolina when there were glaring negatives? The report talked about lack of diversity. But it also showed how eager some in Raleigh were in giving charter schools so much freedom to use tax money to proffer a narrative that public schools were failures. I wrote Lt. Forest an open letter about his “championing of charter schools” last January – http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2016/01/12/open-letter-from-teacher-takes-dan-forest-to-task-on-charter-schools/. I received no response.

I have also written other prominent lawmakers on their actions to allow charter schools to privatize a constitutionally protected social service with tax money. None have garnered a response to this public school teacher, parent of public school children, and voter.

Here is one to Sen. Jerry Tillman, the godfather of charter schools. Sen. Tillman was instrumental in removing obstacles for charter schools to get up and running without much oversight https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/06/10/my-one-sided-pen-pal-relationship-with-sen-jerry-tillman-or-why-i-am-are-sending-an-old-letter-with-more-love/ .

Here is one to both Rep. Rob Bryan and Sen. Chad Barefoot on their rush to fund an ASD district here in NC while ignoring the horrible effects that ASD’s have had in other states. My own school system, Winston-Salem / Forsyth County Schools may be involved in this without any local community members having input. Financial improprieties are now hovering over the ASD in Tennessee. North Carolina’s version is not any different   https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/06/29/outsourcing-our-kids-for-profit-rep-rob-bryan-and-sen-chad-barefoot-will-have-much-to-answer-for-in-the-future/ .

And here is one to Sen. David Curtis. He has been very buddy-buddy with a charter school chain that is a for-profit entity   https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/04/28/hes-back-open-letter-to-sen-david-curtis-why-do-you-not-support-public-schools/.

Here in NC, the charter school industry seems to be championed by people who live in more rural areas. Opening a charter school in a rural area can have incredible effects on the traditional public schools there. If enough students are pulled from the public schools, then those public schools have a harder time petitioning for money to actually have resources for their students.

Oliver’s segment also touched on virtual academies, which is under scrutiny here in NC for its attendance problems. In fact, Oliver’s segment could have easily been done on North Carolina’s situation alone, but our charter school industry sometimes gets overshadowed with all of the talk of HB2, Voter ID bills, coal ash spills, and Opportunity Grants.

But there is one common theme or thread that runs through all of those issues related to North Carolina, especially ill-conceived charter schools – everybody pays a price so a few can profit.

Having John Oliver explore this topic on the eve of school starting when so much else is happening in the country and the world should be an indication that something has gone very awry. And it’s costing us.

However, with the State Board of Education having denied the Charter School Advisory Board’s recommendation for almost twenty applications, there might be a little of a change in the air as to how we spend money for schools.

Maybe that is the beginning of restoring sanity in the stewardship of the public’s money for education.

That Email Dallas Woodhouse Sent to NC Boards of Elections Was Not The Best of Moves

When you want to do something surreptitiously, it’s probably best not to email your intentions for others to see and forward to the press.

It’s like hiding that “Peace Frog” tattoo you got on your lower back when you and your fraternity brothers got really drunk one night, but you still went to work without even putting a shirt on.

It’s like being a 32-year-old “kid” who dyed his hair, swam really fast, got a medal, got drunk, and pissed on the side of a wall and tore down a sign but claimed that he was being robbed – all the while the whole thing was on video.

It’s like trying to circumvent the law or a ruling by a higher court by sending an email with very explicit instructions on how to break the law by not really observing it and then sending that email out to people who believe that their oath to the law is stronger than partisan politics.

That first example is just a scenario, but I do know many people with unintended tattoos. There’s even a show about it – Bad Ink.

The second example concerns Ryan Lochte’s recent Olympic-sized blunder in which he actually displayed his arrogance and right of privilege in a world too much filled with double-standards. The court of public opinion will be a harsh judge on that on.

The third example actually happened this past week with Dallas Woodhouse, the executive director of the N.C. Republican Party.

Just check out this excerpt from the Raleigh News & Observer from a report given by Colin Campbell. ( A copy of the full email can be found here – http://www.wral.com/full-email-sent-by-dallas-woodhouse/15938449/.)

NCGOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse emailed the request to Republican county board members and other party members on Sunday. The News & Observer obtained copies of the emails through a public records request.

County elections boards are developing new early voting schedules in response to a federal court ruling that threw out the state’s voter ID law. In addition to revoking North Carolina’s photo ID requirement, the ruling requires counties to offer 17 days of early voting….

“Our Republican Board members should feel empowered to make legal changes to early voting plans, that are supported by Republicans,” Woodhouse wrote in his email to board members. “Republicans can and should make party line changes to early voting.”

Woodhouse made statements like,

“We believe same-day registration is ripe with voter fraud, or the opportunity to commit it. Same-day registration is only available during early voting. We are under no obligation to offer more opportunities for voter fraud.”

“Many of our folks are angry and are opposed to Sunday voting for a host of reasons including respect for voter’s religious preferences, protection of our families and allowing the fine election staff a day off, rather than forcing them to work days on end without time off. Six days of voting in one week is enough. Period.”

“No group of people are entitled to their own early voting site, including college students, who already have more voting options than most other citizens.”

Wow! I don’t know what is more egregious – the fact that he literally instructed boards of elections across the state to disobey the court’s orders or that he thought he was powerful enough to send thi in an email and totally not expect to be caught Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/election/article96179857.html#storylink=cpy .

If you have not read the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reasoning for the repealing of the Voter ID Law, then do it. You can find it here – http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article92593512.html.

They pretty much said that the Voter ID law was passed to specifically limit votes by minorities and poorer people. It was a sharp indictment against the GOP-led NC General Assembly and Gov. McCrory.

But Woodhouse did this? Whether or not a law was broken is up for the courts and people above my pay grade, but what it really shows me is one very, very strong motivating factor driving Mr. Woodhouse.

That is FEAR.

What separates the North Carolina of 2012 (and to a lesser degree, 2014) from the North Carolina of 2016 is a huge influx of new voters. NC is growing fast and many of these new North Carolinians are moving in because of the change in the economy – from rural manufacturing and agriculture to urban and suburban banking, finance, technology, and other 21st century “industries”. And these people are not necessarily die-hard republicans. Charlotte is much bigger. The Triad area (Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point) and the Triangle (Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh) areas are growing. Even Asheville is growing. They also have major public college campuses.

These new Old North Staters may see HB2, the Voter ID law, the Duke Energy coal ash spills, and other legislative initiatives as backwards and regressive. And they may want to do something about it.

Furthermore, there is a “YUGE” presidential election. There is no doubt that Donald Trump is a polarizing figure. So is Clinton. But I do not see democratic heavyweights not supporting their candidate. That is not the case for republicans. Many top members have openly said they would not vote for Trump. Now, if you are a Richard Burr, or Pat McCrory, or any state lawmaker who is running for reelection as a republican, you must make a choice, and an openly vocal one, to either support or not support Trump.

Deciding to support him has repercussions. Deciding not to support him has repercussions. Not making an open decision has repercussions. The only thing that some of these people could hope for is to not have more democratic leaning people vote. Repealing the Voter ID law allows such people to vote.

Hence, Woodhouse’s email.

It does make one scratch his head to think of how unintelligent sending an email like that could be. It will fall into someone’s inbox who views it as an attempt to bypass laws, and the press will obtain a copy of it – the very same press that many in the GOP rail against.

Furthermore, Woodhouse did all but guarantee that the board of elections in each county will be under a little more scrutiny, or at least have more hypervigilant eyes upon them. When they were instructed to “make things easier for the republicans” and that was made public, you simply placed a large media target on the process.

Hell, it may ensure that more people come to the polls.

Musings With Malcolm #8 – Toy Store(y)

There is a place in Thruway Shopping Center on Stratford Road in Winston-Salem that is called Toys & Company.

And Malcolm loves it.

Heck, me too.

We have this ritual that if we go by Krispy Kreme on Stratford, then we go by the Toys & Company, but not to buy anything (but I do sometimes). But to play with stuff.

This place lets kids play with the toys. The people who work there too will play with the kids and its why I give them my business. Sometimes I see what Malcolm plays with and take a pic of it for present ideas.Someone comes later and gets it for him.

But there’s one things he loves more than anything in the store. Well, two.

Make that three. Playing with cars, trying to open construction equipment from their boxes, and mixing and matching figurines that would never go together in the minds of us mere mortals, but in Malcolm’s cosmos, they blend perfectly.

Want an example? I present pirate on flying unicorn.

See the colors? It’s like the unicorn is a perfect accessory to the pirate.  Or maybe, the pirate is the unicorn’s accessory. Imagine the status you would have at a party in mythological land and you brought Captain Jack Sparrow to the party. And he wanted to fly around with you!

There are the cars and many of them. Malcolm tends to take down many and create a garage of sorts under the play table. It’s like a garage. And sometimes he fits in there as well.


It’s a frickin’ garage down here! Actually, I think he falls asleep sometimes. Might be a sugar crash from Krispy Kreme. Either way it lets me clean up a little of the tornadic path he has woven through the store.

Dump trucks need love.


Holy crap! Pirate on unicorn!


Yep. He’s out.


And what everyone should have. Bunny on dinosaur!


The key here is to understand that Malcolm does not see things compartmentally. If they fit together in his mind, then it’s all good.

The folks at Toys & Company said he could stay and sleep it off. Anyone have a charge cord I could borrow?


North Carolina Teacher to Legislators: I Don’t Want Your Bonus!

Thanks to Dr. Ravitch and EdNC.org.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Stuart Egan, National Board Certified Teacher in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, learned that he was entitled to a bonus of $2,000 for the students in his AP classes who passed their exams. He doesn’t want the money. He needs the money, but he won’t take it. After taxes, he will donate it to his school, which is under-resourced, like many in the state. In this post, he explains why.

Behind the bonus, he writes, is a lack of respect for all public school teachers.

Here are three good reasons he doesn’t want the bonus:

1. I do not need a carrot stick. If getting a bonus to get students to perform better really works, then this should have been done a long time ago. But it does not. I do not perform better because of a bonus. I am not selling anything. I would like my students and parents to think…

View original post 176 more words

Musings With Malcolm #7 – Grocery Stores and Coffee Bars

The little man and I have this routine every week. We do the main trip to the grocery store, specifically Lowe’s Foods on Robinhood.

Now Malcolm doesn’t go to compare prices or squeeze avocadoes to determine ripeness or thump watermelons to see which are ready to eat.

He goes for the socializing.

All right, let’s be honest. He goes for flirting with ladies.

For a long time, I would have him sit in the buggy with some Cheerios or pita chips. It kept him occupied and helped him scope out whom he wanted to talk to next.

As a married man, Malcolm’s activities could present some interesting situations. Malcolm has been known to push the very husbands of the women he wants to talk to out of the way. Luckily, there have not been any hassles. It’s all in good fun. But what is really important is that even though Malcolm happens to have Down Syndrome, he is very good around other people. He has a knack of connecting with others.

Especially the opposite gender. His Grandpa Ed would be so proud.

As Malcolm got older, he became what parents might call a “runner.” He likes open spaces. He likes to explore them quickly. And when he runs, he forgets to listen. That causes some anxiety. And it’s getting better.

But Lowe’s Foods at Robinhood started doing something that has fixed this somewhat.

They now have a coffee bar.

Caffeine. Java. Joe. Cool beans. Java jives. Jittery liquid courage. (Actually, I don’t tell him, but we do get decaf when available.)

So what happens when you get a red-headed, “caffeinated”, runner, whose sole interest in the grocery store is to talk to ladies?

One smooth-talking, calm, and patient boy.

I am not kidding. If I control where the cup rests, then he doesn’t run. The way I doctor my coffee is how he likes it too. He asks for a sip. Smiles. Walks with me and gets some items I ask him to get and asks for another sip. If he sees someone he wants to say “How you doin?” in his own way, then he does. And comes back for another sip.

Then once in a while when we pass the front of the store and the coffee cup is nearly empty and I am getting ready to check out, he takes the cup and goes and sits on a bench in store front and allows people to talk to him.

Drinking coffee, sitting on a bench, receiving his guests who sometimes sit beside him and admire the red-headed, blue-eyed wonder he is.

 But sometimes he does drink too much and pass out.


I usually pick him up later in the day after he’s slept it off.

Open Letter to Alan Hawkes of the Charter School Advisory Board in Response to His Comments About the “SOB’s” at the SBOE

Dear Mr. Hawkes,

An NC Policy Watch report from Billy Ball today (“Tempers flare among charter school supporters as state tightens vetting process“) showed that the new rift between the State Board of Education (SBOE) and the Charter School Advisory Board (CSAB) is still growing and seemingly fostering some ill will, at least on your part as a board member of the CSAB.

Thirteen days ago, the SBOE granted only eight approvals in a pool of 28 new charter school applications that the CSAB had presented for approval. The process is that the CSAB recommends acceptations of applications for charter schools and then the SBOE “signs off” on them.

In the past, it seems to have been a formality, especially when the cap on the number of charter schools was removed. But in a clear reversal of usual protocol, the SBOE practiced more scrutiny in giving approvals, and I along with many, many other public school advocates am grateful for that.

You made the following statement that really serves as a barometer for the magnitude of the SBOE’s actions. You stated as Mr. Ball reported,

“Don’t get me started about public charter school no-nothings (sic) on the NC State Board of Education,” Hawkes wrote in an email to Policy Watch this week. “The temerity and ignorance of those soulless SOB’s (sic) presuming to know better than the NC Charter School Advisory Board with its diversity of knowledge and experience in this area. If there is anyone who knows the good, the bad and the ugly about public school choice, it’s members of our NC CSAB.”

There’s some strong language there. In fact, you didn’t really state it. You spewed it. With some venom – venom that seems to be have been brewing for over twenty years.

A quick search on Google presented your LinkedIn account with enough publically allowed information about your background to verify that your crusade to promote charter schools seems more rooted in your resentment of “far-Lefties” having stolen twenty years of your life. It states,

“After Grand Island High, I began at Boston University(1968-1970). I got caught up w/Leftist protests, accepting every word from BU prof Howard Zinn as political gospel. I subsequently was required to leave BU. Fast-forward twenty years and with help from my kids & spouse, I picked books back up at Guilford College. With more maturity, perspective, & motivation, I found academic success second go around. Thank goodness to live in the USA where second chances abound for even former far-Lefties like myself. After being mugged by 20 years of reality, I found myself welcomed in as a political Neo-Con and finally a knowledgeable & responsible voter.”

Looking through the lens of your “background” at the quote in the NC Policy Watch report it seems that that resentment is still very much there. But when you state that the “SOB’s” presume to know better than the NC CSAB about public school choice, you actually verified that you are the one who lacks the insight of the ill effects of “choice.”

One of your charter school advocates, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, essentially helped people see the cracks in the armor of unregulated charter school growth when he received the report from DPI this past January that showed how charter schools were actually more segregated than public schools. He then demanded that the report be redone to show charter schools in a more favorable light. In fact, he was mad that the report didn’t have “a lot of positive things to say.”

Recently, Lindsay Wagner of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation wrote an expose on the charter school industry here in North Carolina that very much brought to light the inconsistencies of the “public school choice” movement that cloaks charter school growth which ultimately takes away tax payer money from allowing many public schools (that you seem to rail against) to be fully funded.

You may read that report here – http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2016/07/28/failing-charter-schools-inadequate-screening-and-oversight-causing-big-problems-for-many-nc-families/ . I would not be surprised if many members of the SBOE read that same report and found its contents disturbing, considering they are responsible with distributing tax payer money.

In an election year that has public education as one of the primary issues, I am not surprised that the State Board of Education took more precaution in justifying more charter schools which really are just “public” when asking for state money, but operate “privately” after that money is secured to avoid any transparency.

Take for example The Greensboro Academy, a charter school where you serve as the president of the Board of Directors. If people look at the reviews for the Greensboro Academy, they will find it rated on GreatSchools with an overall score of 9 out of ten. That’s impressive.

But the website for the school says, “Our school is designed to eliminate the achievement gap and provide a public school choice to your family so your child is prepared for success in high school, college, and beyond” (https://www.nhaschools.com/schools/greensboro/en/Pages/At-a-Glance.aspx). Interestingly enough, when someone hears “achievement gap”, he/she usually thinks of the academic achievement of white students as measured against minority students. Greensboro Academy is over 80% white.

Ironically, the scores for the nearby public elementary and middle schools are literally the same (8 and 9), except they are much more diverse.

Furthermore, could you insure that all schools the CSAB recommends for approval have that same ability that Greensboro Academy does? Your school was established in 1999, when charter schools were heavily scrutinized to assure success. That’s one of the reasons that there was a cap on charter schools – to make sure that tax payer money was being spent wisely. Seventeen years later, we have no cap and a highly visible movement toward privatization being billed to tax payers. Tax payer money has not been spent well when it comes to charter schools. The DPI report showed it and Mrs. Wagner’s article articulates it very well.

But what really seems to be the hardest part to digest here is your harsh language and attitude toward others who are trying to look at the situation a little more soberly.

Now, if you were trying to infer that “SOB’s” actually means something besides “Sons-of- bitches” such as “Schools of Business”,  “Sets of Books”, “Shrimps on the Barbie”, “Silly Old Bears”, or “Side Orders of Bacon”, then it might not be perceived as being so harsh.

But that’s not the case. We all know what you meant. And it really seems incongruent with the very values you claim that the Greensboro Academy tries to instill through its “Moral Focus”.

Every month, Greensboro Academy has a “virtue” that it emphasizes. Here they are as listed on your school’s website – https://www.nhaschools.com/schools/greensboro/en/Our-Program/Pages/Moral-Focus.aspx.

  • August/September: Wisdom
  • October: Respect
  • November: Gratitude
  • December: Self-control
  • January: Perseverance
  • February: Courage
  • March: Encouragement
  • April: Compassion
  • May: Integrity

I can honestly say that your comment made in response to the decision of the SBOE pretty much nullified October, November, December, maybe April, and definitely May. August is up for review.

And if I had to make a prediction of what the SBOE might be doing with the next round of applications if you do not at least acknowledge their input and power along with a public apology, then I would say that the very people in the SBOE whom you call SOB’s will make sure that the CSAB will be SOL.


Stuart Egan
Public School Teacher

Raleigh’s Real Commitment to “Recruit and Retain Effective Teachers”

The North Carolina Budget and Tax Center released a new report that pretty much verifies what many have said about the true intent on “recruiting and retaining” great teachers under the McCrory administration.

As stated by BTC Director Alexandra Sirota and highlighted in NC Policy Watch on August 17, 2016,

“As children, families, teachers and communities prepare to head back to school, the issue of teacher pay continues to linger in North Carolina. Despite incremental changes in the past two years by state lawmakers to change the structure of pay for teachers and invest more in teacher pay, North Carolina teachers remain near the bottom among their peers in other states for average pay.  Even with the changes to the state’s teacher plan made in the 2016-17 budget, analysis shows that average teacher pay will likely just reach $49,620. That means that many teachers across the state will still earn far below what it takes to make ends meet in their counties” – See more at: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2016/08/16/new-analysis-nc-teacher-pay-still-mired-near-the-botiom/#sthash.382FYmAq.dpuf .

That’s eye-opening, not just because it reiterates what critics have been rightfully saying about those historic “raises”, but it calls into question that the whole “recruit and retain effective teachers” production is really nothing more than hot air. Look at the following table:

BTC table

It’s not measuring NC teacher salaries against other teachers’ salaries from other states. It’s measuring salaries against comparable workers with similar educational backgrounds. Granted, this table does not show the effects of the recent electioneering raises given for this school year, but will it make much of a difference? Well, if other occupations do the same and raise their pay structures only a little, there will be no difference.

But that is not new information either. Consider the sharp decline in enrollment in teacher education programs in colleges and universities. That’s the first indication that what is being proffered by the current administration as a commitment to recruit and retain teachers is not really much of an effort at all. It’s really political propaganda.

This table reinforces that reality. And private business can continue to find highly qualified individuals who used to be teachers coming into the market so they can make a salary that will allow them to be part of this “Carolina Comeback.”

Gov. McCrory’s recent campaign commercials entitled “Truth” claims that his administration has done more for teacher pay raises than any other state in the country and has reduced unemployment. Information in this report sheds a brighter light on that because it calls into question the quality of pay of the very jobs that McCrory claims have reduced the unemployment rate.

Check this out from the North Carolina Justice Center (http://www.ncjustice.org/?q=budget-and-tax/living-income-standard-2014-boom-low-wage-work-means-many-north-carolinians-dont-make).

“One in five North Carolina families earn too little to afford life’s essentials and move up the economic ladder. A North Carolina family of two adults and two children must earn $52,275 annually to afford housing, food, child care, health care, transportation, taxes and other necessities, based on the Budget & Tax Center’s Living Income Standard (LIS) for 2014.

More than a third of two-adult, two-children families in North Carolina earn less than that, and more than three-fourths of families with one adult and two children fall below the standard, which varies by family size.

People in families with incomes below the LIS are more likely to be women (59 percent), working age (56 percent), and have a high school degree or less (63 percent). Moreover, white North Carolinians are less likely to live under the LIS than North Carolinians of color. Nine percent of the total white population lives below the LIS while 23 percent of the total Latino population does and 14 percent of the African-American population does.”

Over 20% of the students in North Carolina live in poverty. That measure of income is MUCH LOWER than the LIS explained in the previous excerpt.

Teachers in public schools still unflinchingly work with students who face poverty and families who live below the LIS – Living Income Standard. And people in Raleigh measure those teachers based on results that are influenced by the very culture and reality they help shape for the families of these students.

Private businesses do not have to provide services for those who cannot pay for those services. Public schools do, even when they are underfunded and overworked. So in order for McCrory and others in the GOP establishment to really “effectively recruit and retain teachers” here in North Carolina, the information contained in that table will have to be dealt with. Quickly.

That’s the “truth” of the matter.

But you will never see that in one of McCrory’s campaign commercials.

McCrory and the 17-Day Window of Time

Gov. Pat McCrory and the GOP mainstays in Raleigh have filed an emergency request with the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the Voter ID law that was overturned by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals recently.

There are two specific items that are brought to light with this action.

First, when the 4th Circuit Court overturned the law, it stated that law would “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” But Gov. McCrory calls it common sense. He issued a statement that said,

“This common sense law was upheld by the U.S. District Court. Our Voter ID law has been cited as a model and other states are using similar laws without challenges.

“Allowing the Fourth Circuit’s ruling to stand creates confusion among voters and poll workers and it disregards our successful rollout of Voter ID in the 2016 primary elections. The Fourth Circuit’s ruling is just plain wrong and we cannot allow it to stand. We are confident that the Supreme Court will uphold our state’s law and reverse the Fourth Circuit.”

So what McCrory calls “common sense”, a higher court called discrimination. Yet the “common sense” excuse McCrory incorporates here is also used by him in other nonsensical actions like HB2 which is also discriminatory.

In November, the people of North Carolina will get to what they think common sense really is.

The second, and almost humorous, item is the timing.

Ironically, it took 17 days for the Governor to make the request.

That’s seventeen. Ten plus seven.

Why is it ironic? Because part of the Voter ID bill that was passed in the governor’s term of office reduced the early voting period from 17 to 10.

Now, if I used McCrory’s common sense, then I should be able to argue that if 10 days is enough time to vote in the early process period, then 10 days should be enough time to react to a ruling about the window for early voting.

But McCrory took 17, not ten. It seems that 17 days is a minimum amount of time needed to make decisions about elections.

It’s like McCrory is telling us how important having a 17-day period is.

Seems like common sense to me.


Rudy Giuliani Should Never Teach History – How Revisionist History is Used to Promote a Narrative

Every so often, I will ask people if they remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when an episode of history occurred that defined our nation and / or our world in such a way that nothing could erase it.

My mother talks about when Kennedy was shot. She also remembers the man on the moon.

My grandmother remembers FDR’s speech after Pearl Harbor.

I remembered the space shuttle Challenger exploding.

But the most surreal memory I have is 9/11/2001 and the falling of the Twin Towers.

I did not teach that year. I consulted for an educational technology company that I help to start and was in Winston-Salem getting dressed to go make a presentation at Wake Forest University for Dr. Joe Milner, probably the greatest collegiate advisor an English teacher could have ever had. I still call on him today.

I had the television on. Good Morning America. And they were live in New York. One of the Twin Towers was ablaze. The people reporting were speculating how it started.

And then on live television, I, along with millions of others, saw an airliner smash into the other Twin Tower.

I witnessed through a television screen the single most atrocious act of terrorism on American soil.

I froze. Two of my closest family members were in New York. My aunt was there auditioning and reviewing Broadway shows. She’s an actress. All of my students will hear of her in my classes as I am very proud of what she has accomplished. Her daughter, who went to NYU straight from metro Atlanta and stayed in the Big Apple because she loved it, had just started serving as an officer in the New York Police Department.

I am from Georgia. I grew up around many of my cousins. My two first cousins on my mother’s side are like my sisters. And one of them and her mother were very near that site of atrocity.

The NYPD is literally the fourth largest standing army in North America. When an all-call goes out, as it did that day, all off-duty officers report to the nearest precinct.

I know what my cousin had to do those next few days. I won’t repeat. I don’t ask her about it. For the next, I believe, 10-12 months, the NYPD was on high alert. The mental, physical, and emotional anguish that the police, firefighters, and other emergency responders had to deal with I could not even begin to imagine.

Rudy Giuliani was the mayor of New York City. He became “America’s Mayor” afterwards. A local man who led NYC through the initial part of the healing and the rebuilding.

While he eventually left office and sought to make a name for himself as a national player in politics for the Republicn Party. Of late he has been a vocal supporter of Donald Trump.

But what he did today may have been one of the most egregious acts of placing personalities before principles I have ever witnessed. He completely seemed to forget that most iconic evert to ever occur in the lives of most people living today ever happened.

Actually, he revised history to promote a narrative. As he was introducing Donald Trump in Ohio before Trump’s big speech on terror and national security, he did the unimaginable. Here’s a link to the video.



That’s right. He said, “By the way, under those eight years before Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States. They all started when Clinton and Obama got into office.”

I was speechless. But that never lasts too long.

Part of me wants to know what excuse might be offered by the Trump campaign for this horrific gaffe.

  • “He was being sarcastic.”
  • “That’s not what Mr. Giuliani was saying at all.”
  • “He was plagiarizing Mrs. Obama’s speech from 2008.”
  • “He is being audited and that’s very stressful.”

But most of me right now doesn’t even want to stomach an excuse. Why? Because the constant narrative that is coming from the Trump campaign is one of blaming. One day it’s the Kahns. One day it’s the NFL. One day it’s Pennsylvania’s election officials. Every day it’s Hillary Clinton.

But today, it’s Giuliani’s fault. Totally. He wanted to fit a narrative that has been framed by the Trump campaign that wants to revise the context of 9/11 out of history so that someone can get elected.

There was not even any self-correcting behind that lectern. He had a narrative and he was sticking to it because the lives that were altered and lost that day were not as important as putting a positive light on a candidate – who happens to call New York City home.

I actually dare the former governor to go to a Yankees game or a Mets game in the next few days and tell the people sitting around him that he meant what he said.

I might even buy a ticket to that game.